Text Equivalents

Text equivalvents (also known as Alt Text) are added through the Format Picture or Format Object dialog boxes. These are accessed by the "right click" menus when an object is selected. You can also access the Format Picture dialog box from the Picture Tools/Format Size tab when the object is selected.

Background and Decorative Images

Text equivalents are only required for objects that convey meaning. Background images or images put into a document "for looks" are known as non-descriptive images and do not need to have descriptions. Be mindful when using these objects that they do not draw attention away from the document.

Inserting Text Equivalents

  1. Select the non-text element you want to add a text equivalent to
  2. Right click to open the sub-menu and select FORMAT PICTURE
  3. Select the ALT TEXT tab on the dialog box
  4. Type in your description and select OK to save

Keyboard command to add Text Equivalents to images:

  1. ALT + J, P, S, Z to open Format Picture dialog box
  2. Tab to move focus to the tab labels
  3. Use arrow keys to move to the ALT TEXT tab
  4. Tab to move focus to the add text area
  5. Type in your description and select OK to save

Text descriptions are added through the ALT TEXT tab on the Format Picture dialog box

Text Equivalents for Rich Content

Writing  text descriptions for photographs, diagrams, or charts will depend on the context they are being used in. The description should match what the object is conveying, not necessarily what the object looks like. An object can have different descriptions based on the context it is being used. An image used in a biology text would have a different meaning than the same image used in an annual report. Many times a complete chart is shown, but only a certain area of it is being focused on. It is recommended that the author of the document provide the text equivalents for rich content to ensure a correct description.

Text Equivalents for Specific Font Style or Image of Text

For images that contain text in some specific font style (Word Art or an imported image), use that text as the Text Equivalent. Examples include Word-Art, logos with text, images of letters. The text description for the image below could be "University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign."

Sample of non-text element that uses specific font style

Text Equivalents for Navigational Symbols

For images that represent a navigational symbol, describe what the symbol is directing. If several navigational elements are being used (flow chart or diagram) it may be best to group the elements and provide one text description for the grouped object. The text description for the image below could be "Go left to room 84" if it were used on a map.

Example of a navigational symbol as an image

Text Equivalents for Character or Symbols

For images that are used to present a character or symbol within text (such as a Greek letter or small icon), write the word(s) that expresses the same thing verbally as the Text Equivalent. The text description for the image below could be "Alpha Sigma Lambda."

Example of Greek Letters used as an image